By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
A member of the House of Representatives representing Aguata Federal Constituency in Anambra State, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, has flayed the Federal Government’s plans to revive toll gates across the country, especially in the Southeast, saying that such will devastate the masses and cause more hardship on them.
Hon. Umeoji, who stated this at a press briefing at the National Assembly recently, observed that the policy would worsen the plight of the people of the Southeast Region, who according to him, were already under the yoke of bad roads.
The federal legislator bemoaned what he described as the lowest federal government presence in the Southeast Region in comparison with other regions of Nigeria. He decried what he termed the collapse of federal roads in the Southeast, which, he noted, had taken a heavy toll on human life, goods and services.
He observed that the Southeast had the least allocation of funds for road maintenance and re-construction, but ranked highest in terms of proposed road taxation.
‘What is the moral justification for tolling on roads that are not motorable?’ Umeoji queried. He feared that the toll gates could become theatres of psychological and mental torture for the people.
The legislator alleged that the zone was completely cut off from the federal government’s land, sea, railway and air projects. According to him, ‘The Southeast Region was isolated from various government projects, such as the railway line project which was structured to exclude the zone. The Enugu Airport is closed down, and the Onitsha inland waterways is not functional.’
Umeoji observed that if the toll gate policy took effect, the cost of transportation would be too high for the people.
It will be re-called that the toll gate policy was suspended under the 1999-2007 administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, so as to lessen hardship on the masses.